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Pro-filesharing Swedish party hopes for seat in Brussels

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The Swedish Pirate Party hopes to secure a seat in the forthcoming European Parliament elections this summer even before the activist group has earned its stripes at a national level.

The party was formed in Sweden in 2006 following the introduction of a controversial new law that forbade the downloading of copyrighted material from the internet. However, it doesn’t currently have a seat in the Riksdag (Swedish parliament).

The Register spoke to the SPP’s youth organisation general secretary Mattias Bjärnemalm, who admitted it would take a “lot of effort” to be elected to the European Parliament in June this year, but added “we think it’s an achievable goal.”

The SPP claims 12,000 members to date, overtaking the Green and Left parties in number of active members in Sweden, according to Bjärnemalm. “During the Pirate Bay trial 2,000 new members joined the party,” he told us.

Indeed, the single issue party - whose raison d'etre is to reform copyright laws, abolish patents and prevent further regulations imposed upon internet usage - is hoping to benefit from the recent high profile coverage garnered from the now infamous trial.

Bjärnemalm said that the level of press interest surrounding The Pirate Bay trial would help the party’s cause, even though he accepted that the SPP was standing for a “niche subject” on the right to obtain access to downloads via the internet for free without penalty.

“You just have to look at who is affected by this issue,” he said. “Everyone below the age of 35 file shares. Their life is online.”

He added “most people who use iTunes probably also download illegally from sites such as The Pirate Bay.”

When pressed on whether it was necessary to raise awareness among young people about the perils of potentially being caught out for unlawful filesharing, Bjärnemalm told us: “That issue is irrelevant to young people, it’s simply their way of life.”

The SPP is putting forward 20 candidates to stand in 2009’s European Parliament elections. The majority of its party’s baby-faced members were born between 1980 and 1990.

“The younger generation are deeply affected by attempts to remove the internet as we know it,” said Bjärnemalm.

However, while the SPP’s rant against current internet law might be viewed in some quarters as a passionate attempt to overthrow the entertainment industry’s heavy-armed tactics to protect its intellectual property online, it’s important to note that the party doesn’t have any solutions to offer – yet.

Even though it is calling for Brussels to bring in radical reform and effectively backtrack on recent legislation, the SPP doesn’t want to “link ourselves to the solution,” explained Bjärnemalm.

“The rules that regulate writing and musical performances need to be looked at but we don’t want to give a solution on how to do it,” he said.

Bjärnemalm also acknowledged that it was impossible to apply the same legal framework regarding copyrighted material to all artists.

The SPP needs around 100,000 votes to cross Sweden’s four per cent threshold to stand a chance of fighting for a seat in the European Parliament. Meanwhile, a judgment on The Pirate Bay trial is expected on 17 April. ®

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